On the 24th May 1851 an explosion took place at Bottomboat Colliery belonging to J. & J. Charlesworths from which several persons lost their lives. On the 30th of May an inquest was held before Mr Taylor, Deputy Coroner.
On view were the bodies at the house of William Land, the Ship Inn, Cock Pit Houses, Bottomboat, George Sampson said that he was in the pit at the time of the explosion which was between 12 noon and 1 o'clock and when he observed sulphur accumulating he ran away and, in about five minutes, heard the explosion which stopped his breath and threw a deal of dust upon him. He said the general practice in that pit was to use naked candles and he believed there had been two explosions before.
At the time of the explosion there were about 30 men and 15 lads in the pit. He was not aware of any signal being used in the pit to make them aware of any danger. George Learoyd, a miner, was in the pit when the explosion occurred and Alfred Hartley came to him and told him to look to his candle as the hole he worked in was breaking, and in a few' minutes afterwards he heard an explosion which blew out his light and then threw him against a puncheon. He did not see his son Henry till he reached home when his son told him that he had been shouting out for him and the sulphur fired out his candle. His son was dreadfully burned and died the next day.
Joe Bulmer, on whom the first inquisition took place, was the son of Thomas Bulmer, a miner at Lock Pit Houses and was 14 years of age. He died about 4 o'clock in the morning on the 30th instance. John Duthoit was the son of Edward Duthoit of Stanley Lane Ends, a coal miner age 13 years and he died at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Robert Land was the son of the late Henry Land of Cock Pit Houses and he died the previous evening at about 7 o'clock being dreadfully burned all over his body.
'Accidentally Burnt' was the verdict and the jury recommended that in future safety lamps should be used in the pit and that the air in the pit be divided into two currents instead of going in one as at present. Also that double doors be adopted instead of single doors and that generally understood signals should be devised to warn men throughout the mine when sudden danger from gas appeared. Similar verdicts were made on John Duthoit and Robert Land.
Just a personal observation... deaths during this period to mine workers by explosion were common. It will be noted by our present day standards that the inquiry was lacking in detail. No official of senior status appears to have been asked questions, loss of life being taken as an accepted risk by all concerned. No one seemed to be held to account; it was just accepted as an act of God - 'hard luck, better luck next time' attitude.
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